TAKE THE REST, BUT LEAVE THE COFFEE – Marilyn Armstrong

We went to the eye doctor today and we’re glad to know that although he needs glasses (bifocals), he can see 20-20 with glasses and the prescription has been the same for four years. So even if his eyes are no longer those of a fighter pilot, they work.

Even without glasses, he can see a solid 20-40 which is good enough for most stuff including driving, most of the time.

Bonnie barked me into wakefulness at around 5 this morning. While I was in the kitchen, I noticed Garry had forgotten to put up the morning coffee. No big deal. I can put up the coffee.

Except he hadn’t actually looked into the machine in a long time. Under the brewing thingie was about a month of coffee muck. I cleaned out the machine, but this morning, it would not brew anymore. Some small plastic item that controls the drip mechanism had died in my cleaning frenzy.

Oh, world, you have destroyed my digestion and my spine is deteriorating (though the new meds really ARE better). You gave me cancer twice, but my hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is more or less under control. One of my dogs is dying. Our blood pressure is peaking. Climate change is battering our house and this country has become a trench of evil. And the Red Sox won’t be anybody’s champions this year.


PLEASE! DON’T TAKE AWAY MY COFFEE!
I’LL DEAL WITH EVERYTHING ELSE, BUT I NEED MY COFFEE.


Tea won’t do the job and I don’t care how many people in England think it’s grand.

SOMETHING TO GO WITH YOUR COFFEE? – Marilyn Armstrong

Doughnuts are not good for me. Or you. We know that. No matter how you slice and dice it, those yummy fresh-from-the-oven treats are nothing but fat, carbohydrates, and sugar, probably with a dollop of artificial flavoring. But gee golly whiz, there’s nothing like a couple of warm crullers and a freshly brewed cuppa joe on a frosty morning. Or, if you’re me, any morning.

75-downtown-21

I love my morning coffee. Much as I complain about the problems of getting old and being poor, retirement has a few perks. The biggest and most obvious is not having to go to work, not having to put up with the idiocies of bosses who know less about the job than the newest intern and base their impossible demands on a spreadsheet.

The other big perk is time. You don’t have to gulp your coffee in the car on the way to the office. Or drink horrible machine coffee in the office. You can brew your own, sit in a comfortable chair with the morning paper, a book, laptop or tablet and savor the experience.

Doughnuts are an extension of this top of the morning experience. As tasty as ever, you can enjoy them with your own or boughten coffee. Locally, the coffee and donuts emporium of choice has always been Dunkin Donuts. Unlike Starbucks whose “dark roasted beans” is a code for “burned coffee,” and whose donuts are clearly not fresh, Dunkin Donuts coffee is mm-mm good and the doughnuts are just out of the oven — at least until 3 in the afternoon.

A couple of times over the past year, in a fit of gustatory nostalgia, Garry picked up a small box of donuts from Dunkin’s to ramp up the quality of our morning coffee experience.

The first time I could barely contain my excitement. As I reached for a second forbidden but delicious doughnut, I discovered it was guarded by a militant-looking cockroach of considerable heft. One of the big ones who is obviously daring you to “bring it on.”

I took the whole box of donuts, roach and all, and dumped them in the trash. As far as I know, we don’t have roaches here. We have ants in season (like now, for example). Mosquitoes the size of sparrows and hungrier than sharks. Slugs and beetles of all kinds in the gardens and who knows what in the woods … but no cockroaches. So I fondly hoped this was an aberration. Surely our local Dunkin Donuts was not packaging cockroaches with the doughnuts? Tell me it ain’t so!

 

When Garry asked what happened to the donuts, I made some lame excuse like having knocked them off the counter and the dogs getting to them. Garry is a brave man, but he has two phobias: snakes and cockroaches. Both knock the Semper Fi right out of him. I chose to spare him the trauma.

Operating under the optimistic assumption that Dunkin Donuts wouldn’t, couldn’t, shouldn’t include cockroaches with their mouth-watering confections, I encouraged him to pick up a second batch a few weeks later.

I ate a couple of doughnuts. Garry ate a couple of doughnuts. And standing in the box guarding the remaining Boston Creme and Honey Raised, was General Cockroach. I think he had an anti-aircraft weapon strapped to his carapace.

I carried the box and its occupant to the trash. This time, though, I told Garry. He needed to know lest he spontaneously purchases a box of fresh donuts on his way home.

After Garry stopped shivering and muttering “I hate those things,” we agreed we’d take a pass on future purchases from our local emporium. There are plenty of other doughnut shops in town.  In fact, the only shops of which our town has more than enough are hairdressers and doughnut shops.

For some reason, we’ve lost our taste for doughnuts. I don’t think either of us has eaten one since.

Odd, isn’t it?

TRIBUTE TO THE DETERMINED SQUIRREL – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Tribute

When I went to buy my bird feeders, some feeders were listed as “squirrel-proof.”

After I read the reviews, it proved what I pretty much knew: No feeder is squirrel-proof. What the feeder I bought said was that though squirrels would get to it, the feeder was sturdy enough to still be a feeder after the squirrel finished eating.

Squirrels really eat. They get up on the feeder, usually the flat feeder. It’s easier for them being nothing but a large, flat hanging piece of wood with a screen on the bottom.  Today, though, it was full of frozen sleet and I don’t think any of the critters could get into it. I was up early because I had to call UMass Hospital and that’s always a lot more effort than it ought to be.

I called once and clearly whoever I was talking to didn’t know anything, so … I called again. After which, I called my current cardiologist. I got the piece of paper my cardiologist sent. But it was a release to give the hospital access to all the material they already had.

I called back and I said, “How am I supposed to fill this form out, especially because I already transferred all my medical information to you folks more than two years ago?”

I finally got transferred to the administrator of the cardiologist group and it all got straightened out in about two minutes. All I needed was to talk to someone who actually knew what was going on.

She told me not to worry, that the cardiologists all had access to pacemaker checking equipment and it wasn’t in a separate lab (as had been true both at Beth Israel and with my previous cardiologist), but was in the doctor’s office. I could decide if I to do my regular pacemaker checkups in person or via telephone.

Telephone? You can do it by REGULAR and not a special smartphone. Just a regular telephone connected on WiFi.

I knew it was possible, but I figured it required some special equipment I didn’t have — or at least, an application I would need to install. But apparently, any telephone will do the job. Isn’t that amazing?

And when she finished explaining this — which really made me feel a whole lot better — she gave me HER DIRECT TELEPHONE NUMBER.

I said: “I’ve had the hardest time trying to get in touch with people at UMass.”

“We have far too many phone numbers,” she agreed. “But this one will get you directly to me. I work 6am to 1pm, so if you call in the afternoon, leave a message and I promise to get right back to you!”

Music to my ears. Truly, after the fiasco with AT&T (they actually sent me ” come back, we have deals!” last night proving they really don’t get it at all), to have someone give me a number I can call so I can talk to someone who  knows what’s going on and can give me an answer.


Gloria in excelsis Deo.

Please choose your favorite Deo or whichever individual, creation, or thing to whom (or which) you joyfully offer heartfelt gratitude. In my life, this varies dramatically depending on everything.


Anyway, that’s why I was up early and that’s how, having finished talking to the Cardiology Administrator (bless you, my dear) I wandered into the kitchen. I had brewed coffee and toasted an English muffin — and the window to the porch was easily visible from the kitchen and dining room.

There, wrapped around the hanging feeder, was a hungry squirrel. Eating. Not easily because getting seeds through the screen works better with a beak than a jaw … but he was doing it.

The squirrel looked at me. I looked at the squirrel. He went back to eating black sunflower seeds which all the larger birds from woodpeckers to doves love — and that includes squirrels.

I picked up my camera and took pictures and he moved around to make sure I had photographed his “good” side. I’m not sure he has a bad side. He hung in every possible position from which a big squirrel can hang from a feeder. He did, I noticed, have a nasty gash in the back of his neck, as if a hawk had tried to grab him. It was scabbed over, but it must have really hurt. I was glad he got a meal at my deck today.

Eventually, I got pictures from every angle and I wanted coffee. The toaster had popped. I wanted my muffin while it was hot.

So this is a tribute, a paeon to the determination of our creatures of the woods. Despite our destruction of so much of their habitat, they find a way to survive. Some of us put out some food for them because we think it’s the least we owe them. We can’t save it all, but at least we can make sure they get the occasional decent meal.

Here’s to the determination of squirrels who can always find a way to get a meal out of any bird feeder. Here’s to squirrels who escape from the hawk and to hawks who hunt the squirrels. Because that’s the way it works in the wild.

AS LONG AS IT KEEPS THE COFFEE WARM … – Marilyn Armstrong

RDP- Sunday: MUG


There was a time in my life when every gave me a mug. Usually a mug with some kind of saying on it. Like ” Aren’t you glad you’re 50?” and “Eat dessert first” or some cryptic saying about tea or coffee.

I appreciated they make modestly priced gifts, but it reached the breaking point when one day, I couldn’t close the cabinet door. I donated ALL our standard mugs to the Senior Center. Time has passed and the mugs are back. Gifts, of course, and every time I buy dishes, it comes with a full set of mugs I will never use. The old teacup and saucer have gone the way of all things, it would seem. Just as well since they were even more difficult to store.

Morning coffee is ready

Personally, we’ve switched to Contigo insulated covered metal cups. They will keep your coffee at drinkable temperature all day. Literally an entire day. They never tip over and cover your computer keyboard with coffee, either.

The downside is that instead of drinking some coffee in the morning, we can (and do), nurse it all day. I suppose we are entitled to at least one bad habit … and this is assuming that coffee is a bad habit. With which opinion I do not agree!

MOSTLY MORNING COFFEE – CEE’S BLACK & WHITE CHALLENGE – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Liquid Drinks


On the table at the dinner
Tea?
Morning coffee
Brewing
Still brewing

SHARING MY WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World 9-24-18

Rules

I will post four or five different questions each week for you to answer.  There are two ways in which you can participate:

Create a SYW  post.  Then post the link to your blog in my comment box or leave your answers in the comments box of my blog.

To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Share Your World”  and link it to this post.

Remember to Follow My Blog to get your weekly reminders.

 Ping-backs are activated and are working well.  For instructions on how ping-backs work, in case you weren’t certain, please click here.

I usually will respond to your entry on your blog, rather than on my page.  


Questions:

Last week I asked a question about favorite beverages and the overwhelming favorite was coffee.   If you drink coffee, how do you like it best?  Hot, cold, iced, with cream, with sugar or black as black? 

Hot coffee almost always, although every once in a while, I get a yen for iced, but not the commercial stuff with all that whipped cream and sugar.

Always with cream or half-and-half and fake sugar (Splenda). I don’t use fake sugar for other things, but in hot drinks, I do because of the way my system works, sugar hits me hard and sometimes badly when in hot drinks.

Oddly, I drink tea with nothing in it at all, not milk or lemon or sugar. I also love green tea, especially with Asian food. Only real tea, not that new-age herbal stuff which isn’t tea. It’s something, just not TEA.

In your opinion, what’s the greatest invention of our age?   

Computers and all of the things that go with them. Modern cameras and sound machines. I could probably live without cell phones, but I’m very good working with everything else.

I just don’t like new cell phones. Oddly, I liked the less smart ones back in the 90s. When you could make actual phone calls and hear what the other guy was saying.

Global warming?  Reality or myth?

The other day, Garry and I were driving around looking for Manchaug and I pointed out that this is the end of September and there is no sign of fall.

Summer has gotten longer and so has winter. Spring was never a big contender around here, but now, there’s really none at all. I have the pictures to prove it. This date even two or three years ago, half the trees were changing color and the nights were chilly while the days were crisp.

I have a closet full of cool weather jackets and coats that I don’t wear because it is summer — three days of cool weather — then the snow begins. Spring is cold. Sometime in April it stops snowing (usually), but the flowers we always got in May don’t show up until late June or even July. This year, we’ve had a re-blooming of daylilies (NEVER seen that before) and the rhododendrons re-bloomed, too.

When it finally got warm enough for the flowers, everything went into a hyper-growth mode. It was like summer in Alaska. Everything grew twice as fast as before, I suppose to make up for the missed months.

It has chilled down a lot in the past few days. I got up in the middle of the night and put on a flannel nightgown. I get cold more easily now than I used to. I think this is an aging thing. Garry gets cold too.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

We used to get at least a month and on a good year six to eight weeks of Autumn in New England. Around the middle of September, a cold snap. The leaves would almost overnight change color. At least we HAD fall. Last year we had ONE week. Just one. Summer dragged on well into October and finally, we got one great week, then the leaves just fell down. Plunk.

Good thing I took pictures.

It’s not the same every year, mind you. But the seasons have absolutely changed. Everyone notices. It’s hotter where it was always warm, but now it is hotter and stays hot longer. The fires burn longer. The storms are more intense and, as good old Donzo says, “wetter.” Never have I been gladder we moved from the coastline a bit inland. Not enough inland, though. These devastating rains will get to us, too. It’s not an if, just a when.

I don’t know what I expected from climate change. I didn’t expect the explosions of rain and snow and storms and fires. The unevenness of it. There is no sequential flow to the seasons now. Stuff just happens and it happens big. There are no little storms. Everything is over the top. Superstorms with the kind of rain we’ve never seen in our lifetime.

Is that enough climate change for you? It works for me. There is no debate on this. We are in the midst of something scary and dangerous — and we are making it much worse.

But that’s because we have a moron running our country.

Are you an explorer or more a homebody?

Both. I like to explore. Then I want to go home.

What were you grateful for this week? 

We found Manchaug!

NEWSYWbanner

MORNING COFFEE AND TOP OF THE WORLD – Marilyn Armstrong

Coffee!


Oh, what a beautiful morning!

The sun is not shining because it rained all night, off and with a lot of lightning and thunder. Although our light dimmed briefly, we never lost power. Oddly enough, we were watching the weather when the main storm was passing. They were saying that the storms hustling south to north through Massachusetts were going to drop the humidity and the temperature.

For the next four or five days, we are going to have normal temperatures in the low seventies with more or less normal amounts of humidity.

Considering it was too hot yesterday to make a simple trip to Garry’s barber and finally get a proper trim for his head — because Garry, who had been outside cleaning up after the dogs — said “It’s just too hot” and that, from Garry is a real statement.

Garry likes warm weather. Garry likes hot weather. But this weather? Technically, it was just 96-degrees yesterday, but with almost 80% humidity, and not a breath of breeze, it felt well over 100-degrees.

Air has been like hot soup. The dogs refused to go out. Too hot.

Bonnie

Bonnie, it turns out, has been resisting going out because she is nearly blind. We knew she was going blind for a couple of years. She has a kind of chronic dry eye that even though we put drops and clean her eyes out four or five times every day, one eye is completely clouded up and the vet says it is unlikely she can see anything through it and the other, while still functional, is rapidly developing a serious cataract and it won’t be very long before she can’t see.

She is 11 years old. We have had her with us since she was a mere 9 weeks old, a rescue from a puppy mill. The better news? She is a bit pudgy, but not excessively. As far as Dr. Marcy is concerned, she is in fantastic shape for her age.


For her age.


I hate that wording. I’m not fond of it when it’s about me, but it gives me the cold shivers when it’s about one of the dogs. She has reached the end when “stuff comes up.” Lumps and bumps. She’s a great eater and basically, a very happy little dog, but she is getting old.

I hate it when they get old. It’s so soon. Wasn’t it yesterday I stood in the freezing, snowy yard at three in the morning begging Bonnie to DO SOMETHING so frozen mama could go back to bed?

She loves the snow. She was tiny, yet she bounced through it like one of those high-bounce rubber balls. She still loves snow. But not rain or heat.

We took in the Duke originally because Bonnie had become so inactive we felt her lack of vigor would take years off her life. She and the Duke have formed a real bond. He goes up and down the steps with her, apparently (on some doggish level) aware that she can’t see properly. No depth perception. He pushes her in and out of the doggy door.

With Duke around, she is much more active. The Duke makes her play with him. She doesn’t just lie on the sofa anymore. She plays and this is a good thing.

Duke shepherds both Scotties up and down the stairs, even though there isn’t a speck of shepherd in his Asian breed mix. He looks like a Shih Tzu, but he’s twice the size and he has a funny squashy, uneven face, one ear up, one ear down. Visually, he’s a dead ringer for a Papillon — except he is very much larger. But he has that face, minus the one downward-pointing ear.

The Duke

Meanwhile, against all odds, he shepherds both Scotties and us. He is always inches from Garry or me when we go anywhere. If it’s the bathroom and we shut the door, he lies across the threshold and waits. If we are off to bed, he settles in on the floor across the doorway. No night visitor will pass him by.

Duke and Bonnie!

Every night. On the wood floor. It is not that he is velcro on us. More like we are velcro on him. I feel like I should put a bed in the hall for him, but the hallway is really narrow. I’d trip and fall over it.

He wants my coffee and muffin, though first and foremost, he wants my muffin. With the lemon curd on it. If I turn my back for half a second, he’s nailed that muffin. Gone. He looks utterly innocent.


“What muffin? Me? I didn’t eat your muffin. Prove it. Show me the evidence.”


Not a crumb remains on his snout.

Drinking coffee in the morning is one part coffee, two parts fending off The Duke. I let him have the crumbs left on the plate few as they are. That level of loyalty surely deserves at least the crumbs — and anyway, he has probably swiped half of it while I wasn’t looking. He is very fast.